September 05, 2009
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One-touchdown favorite Minnesota trailed Syracuse with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter. Three-touchdown favorite Ohio State allowed three second half touchdown drives to Navy and faced a two-point conversion from the Midshipmen to tie with a little over two minutes to play. Iowa, such a colossal favorite over I-AA Northern Iowa that there wasn't even a line, trailed most of the game and faced a game-winning UNI field goal attempt with seconds to play. During the timeout between the Navy's touchdown to make the score 29-27 and the two-point attempt to tie, there was a strong possibility all three Big Ten favorites would lose.
Instead, they go 3-0: Minnesota embarked on one of its only sustained drives of the game to tie and then kick the game-winner in overtime after a gift interception from 'Cuse QB Greg Paulus; Ohio State picked off Navy's inscrutable two-point pass and took it back for two of its own; and Iowa blocked not one, but two Northern Iowa field goals to win. Combined margin of victory: Eight points. Avoiding humiliating defeats that would fuel the torches of your conference's seemingly endless parade of critics? Priceless.
And in fact, the Big Ten hasn't lost yet this season: With Indiana's late escape against Eastern Kentucky on Thursday night and predictable romps by Penn State, Purdue, Michigan State and Northwestern over opening day cupcakes, the conference is 8-0 with Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin still to come. I guess that means it's shaping up as a banner weekend.